04/06/2016 11:50AM

Vitali shifting summer base from Monmouth to Laurel

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Marcus Vitali, who had a good winter at Gulfstream Park, including Valid's win in the Grade 3 Skip Away, will have about 35 horses at Laurel this summer.

Marcus Vitali will base his stable at Laurel Park this summer rather than Monmouth Park, as he has the past three years.

Vitali won 25 races at the Gulfstream Park championship meet, which ended Sunday, to finish third in the trainer standings behind Todd Pletcher and Jorge Navarro. The Stronach Group owns both Gulfstream and Laurel.

“They’re pretty accommodating at Laurel, and my clients and I want to support The Stronach Group,” Vitali said. “They’re doing a lot for the game. I went up to Laurel a few weeks ago and saw a lot of improvements.”

Vitali, who will have about 35 horses at Laurel, won the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes with Valid at Gulfstream last Saturday. Over the past two years, Valid has earned more than $300,000 at Monmouth while compiling a 7-2-2-3 record there. Valid won the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth last summer and the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup in 2014.

Jockey Nik Juarez left Maryland for Florida in late January to ride for Vitali. Juarez went 12 for 67 for Vitali at Gulfstream and won 21 races at the meet, including the Skip Away on Valid.

“I took a risk, and thankfully it all worked out,” Juarez said Tuesday.

Juarez finished third in the Monmouth standings last year with 45 wins and was the leading apprentice at the meet in 2014. Juarez and his agent, Jay Rushing Jr., will head to Maryland in the near future to finish out the Laurel meet, which continues through May 8, and then will ride at Pimlico, which races May 12 to June 26.

Monmouth opens May 14.